Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards on Wednesday (13 April) signed an executive order prohibiting state agencies and state contractors from discriminating against LGBTI employees and others.
Edwards said his action was needed in order to rescind an anti-gay ‘religious freedom’ executive order signed by his predecessor Bobby Jindal last May.
Jindal’s order had prohibited the state from punishing anyone ‘who acts in accordance with a religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.’
‘The previous administration’s executive I am rescinding was meant to serve a narrow political agenda,’ Edwards said in a statement on his website.
He said Jindal’s order threatened the state’s business growth with large corporations including IBM speaking out publicly against it.
‘It does nothing but divide our state … and it goes against everything we stand for – unity, acceptance, and opportunity for all.’ he said.
Edwards added that you can respect your fellow citizens for their beliefs but you do not discriminate based on disagreements.
‘While this executive order respects the religious beliefs of our people, it also signals to the rest of the country that discrimination is not a Louisiana value, but rather, that Louisiana is a state that is respectful and inclusive of everyone around us,’ he stated.
Democratic state representative Mark Pocan thanked Edwards for the move on behalf of the legislature’s LGBT Equality Caucus.
‘Governor Edwards’s bold step towards equality will protect LGBT state employees from the fear of arbitrarily losing their ability to provide for their families,’ he said.
‘We hope he inspires more governors across this country to take a stand for basic fairness.’